Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A Year In Review

My creativity took a yarn-y spin this year. 3 crochet patterns, 1 knit pattern and 3/4 of a YA book that is 3rd in a series. I'm not going to punish myself for not getting the 1 book a year out in time. Normally, I'll be devastated. But ever since reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, I've learned to embrace my seasons of creativity and not worry about the stuff I'm supposed to be creating but aren't. Instead, I'm embracing the stuff I'm creating and know that I'll get back to the other creative stuff that have been pushed to the back burner. 

To be honest, this is the biggest lesson I've learned this year: to be kind not only to others but most especially to myself and to embrace my creativity as it ebbs and flows and to help others find their own creative spirit. My 2017 word for the year was Kindness and I truly hoped I've lived up to the word. 

My 2018 word for the year is [Be] Brave. I'm not sure yet what the year of the Brave will bring and what lessons I'll be learning but I'm sure looking forward to it. For 2018, I also want to get back to watercoloring and playing the piano on a regular basis on top of crocheting and writing. I also want to get back to writing poetry, even though it's harder to market (hence I still have a day job) and I got one of those Strathmore Visual Journal: Watercolor as my 2018 journal instead of using Scrivener as I've been doing since 2016 that way, it will force me to sketch and watercolor without intimidating me with big, blank, white pages and I can also use it for any crochet/knit designs that pop in my head. 

Because I haven't done any watercolor painting since 2012, I looked at my previous watercolors and dug out my supplies. I also got new short-handled Master's Touch paintbrushes that can fit inside my art case and because I'm running low on paint tube stash, I decided to try using a full-pan set of 12 colors and got a brand that I haven't used before. I used to use Prang when I was first starting out then switched to Pentel Watercolor Tubes and when those tubes run out, I'll be using Hobby Lobby's Master's Touch. Of course, when you get a new set of watercolors, I couldn't help but create a color grid for it and I was really surprised by how vibrant the colors are compared to Pentel (I didn't make a color grid when I was using Prang). Now I can't wait to use them! So, in order to use up the old Pentel watercolors, I did some watercolor beginner exercises to refresh my memory. After doing the exercises, I feel better with my brush and water control.

Exercise 1 from Everyone's Guide to Watercolor Painting

Pentel Watercolor Color Grid

Master's Touch Watercolor Color Grid


How about you? How did you do with your 2017 goals? What are your 2018 goals? May you all have a prosperous New Year!

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 

Lord Byron: Complete Works (Delphi Classics Poets Series, #6)

Currently Writing

Still working on Chapter 21 of Helena and the Dragon - Unfortunately, I haven't written a word since September.

Finished Objects

Strawberry Lace Pattern from the book Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet - yarn used was Trenway Silks Kiku, in Tropical Bloom, 100% Spun Bombyx Silk, Lace weight; using a Clover Soft Touch Steel Hook 1.75mm

3 Hearts Bookmark - yarn used was Trendy Silks Kiku, in Tropical Bloom, 100% Spun Bombyx Silk, Lace weight, total amount used 5.5 yards; using a 1.75mm Clover Soft Touch Steel Hook, finished measurements are 5.25" long.

Galahad the Dragon by Laura J. Taylor of the Stitch Tower - yarn used was Yarn Bee Soft Secret Solids, 100% Acrylic, Worsted Weight, used 143 yards/81 grams in Cocoa, 81 yards/89 grams in Seafoam, and 10 yards/6 grams in Mist; using a 4.0mm/US G Clover Soft Touch Hook.

Currently Crocheting

Elise Shawl by Evan Plevinski - yarn used was Louet North America Gems, 100% Merino Wool, Sport Weight in Crabapple; using a 5.5mm/US size I Clover Soft Touch Hook.


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Lulu Loves Crochet Podcast

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fourth Time's The Charm

Holy Cow! I can't believe it's the end of November already. It's been pretty busy over here at Ambidextrous Crafter and I'm slowly working through all 3 of my WIPs. I'm close to finishing the Crochet Ribbed Skirt pattern, so I'm really excited to share that with all of you dear readers. I finished my Crochet Travel Hook/Needle Case and I have to say, that pattern was really tricky for me to nail down. It was tricky in the sense that it took 4 tries with different stitch patterns to get it right without the fabric curling. I'm really happy with the end result. Because I'm trying to get the two patterns finished, my Strawberry Lace Scarf didn't get much love. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving. This year, I'm truly grateful for being able to work from home because it enabled me to work towards my fitness goals during my lunch break, I'm not as stressed out as I used to and I get to crochet and design a lot more patterns with the time I used to spend driving up to Denver. I'm also grateful to my wonderful family and friends for being so supportive, it would definitely be extra harder this year without all of your support and prayers. I'm also grateful for the new wood-burning fireplace we got installed as it is way more efficient and it radiates heat more effectively than the old one. 

This month, I've found and am loving this Illuminating BB Cream, 3-in-1 Color Stick and the Intense Hydration Face Cream from Mineral Fusion. If you or someone you know is looking for an all-natural ingredient makeup or skin care product, check out my review on Mineral Fusion. I'm really loving how it looks and feels on my skin and the effects on my skin as well. 

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 

Sense and Sensibility (from the Jane Austen Digest: Complete Collection) 
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6) by J.K. Rowling

Finished Objects

Crochet Travel Hook Case by MG Camacho - yarn used was Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Collection Sock Weight in Lavender Topaz, 50% Superwash Merino, 25% Bamboo, 25% Nylon, total amount used was 147 yards/34 grams; using a Clover Soft Touch Crochet Hook in US B/2.25mm size, finished measurements are 6" tall x 4" wide with the flap closed.

Ribbed Crochet Skirt by MG Camacho - yarn used was Bernat Softee Baby Cotton in Aqua Mist, 60% Cotton, 40% Acrylic, total amount used was yards/grams; yarn used for the belt was Bernat Softee Baby Sport DK Weight in Pale Blue, 100% Acrylic; using a Clover Soft Touch Crochet Hook in US G/4.0mm, finished measurements for the skirt are 20" long x 36" around.

Currently Knitting/Crocheting

Strawberry Lace Pattern from the book Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet - yarn used was Trenway Silks Kiku, in Tropical Bloom, 100% Spun Bombyx Silk, Lace weight; using a Clover Soft Touch Steel Hook 1.75mm

Product Reviews


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Ribbed Crochet Skirt

This pattern is written based on designer’s own measurements and can easily be modified to fit your own body measurements.
It is extremely important that you take note of your own body measurements as well as take note of the number of stitches you need based on the swatch you made in your favorite yarn weight/fiber content and in the corresponding hook/needle size in order to complete this skirt.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

[Product Review] Mineral Fusion

Image courtesy of Mineral Fusion

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Category: Makeup & Skin Care

Part 1: Product Description

Mineral Fusion Illuminating Mineral Beauty Balm

Instantly evens and perfects skin tone while minimizing pores and fine lines. 

Skin-soothing Aloe and nourishing botanicals moisturize skin for long-lasting hydration.

Our unique mineral-peptide blend and natural antioxidants promote cellular renewal for younger looking skin.

Mineral sun protection shields your face from the sun’s harmful rays while potent antioxidants ward off free radicals.

Formula Purity
Gluten Free :: 100% Vegan :: Cruelty Free :: Paraben Free :: Artificial Color Free :: Fragrance Free :: Talc Free ::  Hypo-allergenic :: Phthalate Free

Finish Description: ultra sheer with a satin finish

Drug Facts
Active Ingredient ..................... Purpose
Titanium Dioxide 7.4%...................... Sunscreen

Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Jojoba Esters, Mica, Vegetable Glycerin, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Citric Acid, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Mineral-Peptide Blend (Magnesium Asparate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5), Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Rosa Canina (Rose) Flower Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Sodium Benzoate, Iron Oxides. Other Information: protect this product from excessive heat and direct sun.

Mineral Fusion 3-in-1 Rosette Color Stick

Instant Color For Cheeks, Eyes & Lips
This versatile product is all you need to add color to cheeks, eyes, and lips. The lightweight formula will add a subtle shimmer and pretty glow to any complexion.

Perfect For On-The-Go Use
Brush-free application - apply and blend with fingertips. Easily fits in your bag for touch-ups throughout the day and night.

Multi-Tasking Makeup
All-in-one product speeds up your morning routine.

Formula Purity
Gluten Free :: Cruelty Free :: Paraben Free :: Artificial Color Free :: Fragrance Free :: Talc Free ::  Hypo-allergenic :: Phthalate Free

Color Description: pale pink with a hint of shimmer

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Vegetable Glycerin, Glyceryl Behenate, Sodium Stearate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium PCA, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Powder, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Caprylyl Glycol. MAY CONTAIN (+/-): Black Iron Oxide, Red Iron Oxide, Yellow Iron Oxide, Carmine, Titanium Dioxide.

Mineral Fusion Intense Hydration Face Cream

Nutrient-replenishing Mineral Water, and ultra-nourishing Shea Butter, Rosehip Oil, and Hyaluronic Acid provide rich, luxurious hydration for noticeably softer skin.

Calming botanicals - Aloe, Lavender, and Cucumber - soothe and comfort skin for a healthy-looking glow.

Natural antioxidants, revitalizing Iron, and our elasticity-promoting, clinically tested, collagen-boosting peptide help firm and restore skin for a more youthful appearance.

Makeup Ready
Leaves skin perfectly prepped for makeup by creating a smooth, even texture.

Formula Purity
Gluten Free :: 100% Vegan :: Paraben Free :: Cruelty Free :: Artificial Color Free :: Hypo-allergenic

Ingredients: Mineral Water (Aqua), Vegetable Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Hyaluronic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glyceryl Stearate, Hematite (Iron) Extract, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender)*, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Linum Usitatissimum (Flax) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Oil*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract*, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract*, Borago Officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil, Allantoin, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract*, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria)*, Rosemary Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, CedrusAtlantica (Cedarwood) Bark Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Echinacea Angustifolia Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin. * Certified Organic

Part 2: Recommendation

I saw this brand while browsing the Beauty & Skin Care section of Natural Grocers in S. Nevada, Colorado Springs, CO and it actually took maybe 3 weeks before I went ahead and got the above products. Winter is coming and I can feel my skin drying up faster than I could moisturize it. As for makeup, I seldom wear makeup because (1) I work from home now (2) I don't like the feel of all that makeup on my face (3) it's very time-consuming to put makeup on and (4) I don't like how it looks like I have makeup on. 

Yes, I've seen several YouTube video tutorials on the "No Makeup Look" and that is even more time consuming and the number of products involved is just ridiculous (for me, at least). For me, when I wear makeup, I want me to look like me and if I can limit the number of products used to less than 5, even better especially if you travel light like I do. So, I went to the Mineral Fusion website and read about the company and read all the reviews for the Illuminating BB Cream and Color Stick and loved what I read. So I tested the BB creams at the store and came home with the Illuminating BB Cream and the Rosette 3-in-1 Color Stick. 

I've been using both for 1 week now and I have to say that the Illuminating BB Cream blends well on the skin, very lightweight so it doesn't feel like I'm wearing makeup and the best part is, it looks so fresh, natural and glowing and it doesn't show the dry patches on my cheeks and forehead. It literally feels like putting on moisturizer. It is not super shiny or sheer at all. It has that all over nice glow and it helps keep my skin moisturized.

As for the Rosette 3-in-1 Color Stick, there are 3 other colors available but I picked the Rosette one since I'm more into the pale pink/glowing blush look and the product delivers. It doesn't show much but it gives your cheeks that radiant healthy glowing blush look, which suits me perfectly. And I have very fair, Asian complexion. I haven't used it as a lip color and most likely will never use it for that as I don't wear lipstick ever but I have used it on my lids as eyeshadow and it was easy to apply and it looks just as great. 

Now, for the Intense Hydration Face Cream, I have been using this product for 3 days now and I'm really loving it. It's not oily or sticky at all and I slather this on in the morning before I put on the Illuminating BB Cream and at night after I wipe off my makeup. Here in Colorado, especially during the colder months, you can never put enough moisturizer. I bought this product without reading any reviews online because I figured, if my skin is loving the Illuminating BB Cream, it will most likely love the Intense Hydration Face Cream as well and the fact that this cream also has lavender to combat breakouts and soothe skin irritations. 

This combination works really well for me and it shows on how much smoother and even my skin feels. I highly, highly recommend these products even to those who don't like using makeup at all or for those who love makeup but are looking for a product that uses natural ingredients or to those who want to simplify their makeup routine.

Crochet Travel Hook Case


This versatile Crochet Hook or Interchangeable Hook or Interchangeable Knitting Needle Travel Case that can fit at least 10 hooks or 5 pairs of needles in the inner pocket and a tin-full of notions and stitch markers in the front pocket. You can also attach stitch markers directly onto the fabric for easy access.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Two Skirt Patterns And More Yarn

Last September, I mentioned in this blog that I'm working on a crochet skirt design. That one design turned into two designs. The second skirt design turned out to be a knit design accentuated by crochet on the hem, waist band and belt. The pattern is called Knit Loves Crochet Skirt and is now available on Ravelry. As mentioned last month, I no longer own knitting needles and used a 4.5mm Knook Hook which worked really well and I've also noted that on the pattern materials just in case you might want to try Knooking. I personally found it more efficient using the Knook to pick up stitches when transitioning from crochet to knit and when binding off at the end of the last knit round when transitioning from knit to crochet. Like all of my patterns, this pattern is meant to fit your own measurements so make sure you measure several times and then make a swatch with whatever yarn weight/fiber and the corresponding hook and needle you want to use, count your stitches per inch and that will give you an idea of how many chains to make as this skirt starts off on the crocheted hem. And feel free to keep trying it on as you go along to ensure a proper fit. I'm really proud of how this skirt turned out and because the yarn I used was a 2-ply thick and thin yarn from Galler Yarns, the stockinette body looks textured and very pretty.

I have finished writing up the first skirt design which is purely crochet but I haven't published it yet because it is currently undergoing testing then editing now that I have the right yarn on hand for it. I'm really excited to get this skirt done. 

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (from The Jane Austen Digest: Complete Collection)

Finished Objects

  • Tunisian Simple Stitch Dishcloth - yarn used for the coaster itself was Lily's Sugar 'n Cream in Soft Ecru, 100% Cotton, Worsted Weight, 120 yards/70 grams, and the yarn used for the embroidery design was Yarn Bee Soft Secret Solids in Sea Foam, 100% Acrylic, Worsted Weight, 42 yards/24 grams; each coaster measures 5" x 4.5"

Currently Knitting/Crocheting

  • Ribbed Crochet Skirt

Product Reviews


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

[Book Review] The Lyons Orphanage by Charlie King

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
EPUB Edition
Genre: Fiction

Disclaimer: I received this galley from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Sam Watkins, an orphaned young teenager, possesses the ability to read the minds of almost everyone he meets. Howard Lyons, the owner of the orphanage where Sam has lived since he was a baby, has been reluctant to let Sam leave the orphanage. Unable to read the mind of Mr. Lyons, he takes it upon himself to investigate the reasons behind the owner's decisions and learn more about the origin of his ability, his parents and the potential of his power. However, Sam's investigation and mind-reading abilities reveal a power struggle at the top of a faltering orphanage between Mr. Lyons and his assistant Natalie. Sam's involvement in this conflict leads him to look for ways to save the orphanage and uncover the true motivations of both the owner and his assistant while trying to learn about his past.

Part 2: Recommendation

Written in the first person point of view in Sam Watkin's perspective, a thirteen year old orphan, living at the Lyons Orphanage, who has the ability to read the minds of everyone he meets except Mr. Lyons' and Nurse Scarlett's minds. 

This is the first book that I've been exposed to Charlie King's work and I have to say with all honesty that it was a good read with a surprising twist that was hinted at in the middle of the book and in the book description that intrigued me. The first half of the book describes the daily routine of the orphans at the orphanage and the pacing is on the slow side, which is to be expected considering the POV is that of Sam's, whose life revolves around the orphanage and he doesn't get to go outside and since it begins during the summer break, there are no school scenes to show how Sam interacts with other students. The reader is pulled into believing Sam and in turn believes what Sam believes to be true. So when the author introduces the conflict between Mr. Lyons and Natalie, the reader feels the same way as Sam does. It's strange though because the way Sam thinks and talks, to me, feels more like he's way older than thirteen or could that be a product of being able to read people's minds? 

After the conflict has been introduced, the second half of the book goes by much faster especially with the addition of Nicholas Lyons and his poker friends and everything drastically speeds up during the boys' annual physical check-up at the hospital where Nurse Scarlett and Nurse Lewis works where Sam finally discovers how he came to be at the orphanage which further ignited his curiosity more than ever as the reasons doesn't seem to be traumatic for a thirteen year old to handle, and why he was never allowed to meet prospective parents and how come despite after receiving a large donation, there are no visible improvements being done on the orphanage?

All the answers to these seemingly innocent questions explodes throughout the final chapters where everything is revealed and loyalties changed.

The Lyons Orphanage does not have a complicated plot, easy to follow and the main orphan characters (Sam, Ben, Natasha and Gareth) are well developed characters while Mr. Howard Lyons and Natalie remain background authority figures until almost the very end when their characters become more involved with Sam. 

The only issue I had with the galley I received was that the formatting was not very good at all. I believe the author would benefit greatly from the services of a book/ebook formatter or with using Vellum to format this book. The cover did not bother me as I usually go for the book description when deciding to read a book or not but it could also use an update.

Overall, despite the formatting issues I've mentioned above, it's an enjoyable read.